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What to do with the Lame Duck

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The Congress has a large agenda for its lame duck session that begins today. But, of all the many things the Congress needs to consider, from tax cuts to the START Treaty ratification, none is more important than passing the DREAM Act that will permit those who were brought to this country without proper immigration papers as children, but who now wish to attend college or serve in the military, to become citizens. It is the right thing to do. It speaks to the "American exceptionalism" that the right always likes to crow about, a perfect example of the American Dream at work. It is an act of justice. It is a step towards resolving our scandalous immigration laws. And, for someone like Sen. Harry Reid, whose re-election was secured by the votes of Latinos, it is a a matter of political necessity.

Advent: Time for Christian Resistance

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It is Advent. Time to become a stiff-necked Christian. Seriously.

I do not share Bill Donohue’s seemingly boundless capacity for anger, righteous or otherwise, but I admire his campaigns to retain phrases like “Merry Christmas” and to resist the more anodyne “Happy Holidays.” I think most of the crèches you find on public property are poorly made and uninviting, but I think our First Amendment jurisprudence has gone overboard when it finds such displays unconstitutional unless surrounded by Santa, reindeer, a menorah, and Frosty the Snowman. I have never liked secular Christmas Carols, not any of them, not “Jingle Bells” or “Jingle Bell Rock” or “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” I was visibly upset when the local grocery store began putting out Christmas ornaments the week after Halloween!

Tom DeLay & The Varieties of Corruption

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Former Congressman Tom DeLay was found guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He could face life in prison and he should, but not only because he laundered money. He laundered money with the objective of influencing politics, of subverting the democratic processes by which the rule of law is given its legitimacy.

Recently, Congressman Charles Rangel was found guilty of violating House rules and now faces a censure from the whole House. His variety of corruption was the most pervasive, but the least dangerous, to our political culture. He did not play by the rules, failing to report income, and he used his congressional office to raise money for a chool that bore his name. In other words, he had the sense that the rules did not apply to him, but he did not seek to frustrate the electoral system nor to make a lot of money by trading on his name or influence.

Prayers for the Pope & the Repose of the Soul of Manuela Camagni

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Wednesday, one of the women who cares for the Pope, Manuela Camagni, was killed in an auto accident on her way home. She was, by all accounts, a remarkable woman and the tragedy has wounded the entire household. We should all pray for the repose of her soul but I think we should also say a special prayer for Pope Benedict.

Sister Death comes when she will, but in the normal course of affairs, she comes later in life. This allows the soul time to prepare to meet her, but that preparation is itself, for many people, a great source of anxiety. It is one thing to lose a friend or an acquaintance in a tragic accident, but as one gets on in years, every brush with death bears with it the intimation of your own time coming to an end. I see this in my Dad who seems to attend any and every funeral within a fifty mile radius of our home, even if he knew the deceased only very little. It is as if he wants to be as familiar as possible with Sister Death so as to be ready when she comes, and come she will. The Holy Father is only one year older than my Dad, so I am sure he has similar thoughts.

Shame Watch: Deal Hudson Attacks DREAM Act

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Of all the things to give thanks for this Thanksgiving, it is strange enough that Deal Hudson is giving thanks for the Tea Party, a group dedicated to, well, at the very least, dedicated to the kind of hyper-individualism and anti-government thinking that has little or no resonance with Catholic Social Teaching.
But, it is just shy of unforgivable that one of the examples he gives of the kind of government initiatives the Tea Party is set to eliminate is the DREAM Act, which would grant citizenship to children brought here by their parents without proper documents provided they serve in the U.S. military or go to college. He seems especially exercised at the thought that such students would receive lower in-state tuition costs. If only the poor kids had the foresight to be born in McClean, Virginia rather than in Mexico.
Shame on you Deal.

Condomania & Conservatives

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The New York Times story about Pope Benedict's comments on condoms features commentary from Dr. John Haas. Read this passage carefully and see what jumps out at you:

Catholic conservatives who believed Catholic teaching against contraception to be inviolable were reeling. “This is really shaking things up big time,” said Dr. John M. Haas, the president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, who serves on the governing council of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life.

Dr. Haas, a moral theologian, said he had seen an embargoed copy of a new book in which the pope conceded there might be extreme cases in which there were grounds for the use of condoms. “I told the publisher, ‘Don’t publish this; it’s going to create such a mess,’ ” he added.

Korea & START

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If the outbreak of hostilities in Korea demonstrates anything, it is the necessity of passing the START treaty. The Russians want to see that treaty ratified and we need their help in pressuring Iran which, like Korea, has been pursuing a nuclear weapons capability. If the North Koreans did not have nuclear weapons, their recent attack on a South Korean island would be problematic but it would not be potentially catastrophic. The last thing we need is a nuclear-armed Iran to worry about too.

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In This Issue

September 12-25, 2014

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